Pros and Cons of Elimination Diets
Pros and cons of elimination diets
Our digestive system is a huge portal into our bodies. Lots of things can get in there that aren't always good for us (whether on purpose or without our knowing). And because the system is so complex (knowing which tiny molecules to absorb, and which keep out), lots can go wrong. And that's one reason why 80% of our immune system lives in and around our digestive system.
This makes food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances a huge contribution to an array of symptoms all over our bodies. Things like autoimmune issues, inflammation, and even our moods can be affected by what we eat. If you have digestive issues or any other unexplained symptoms, you may consider trying an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is one where you strategically eliminate certain foods to see if you react to them. It can help immensely when trying to figure out if a particular food is causing symptoms because you’re sensitive to it.
You generally start out by eliminating the most common food allergens for a few weeks. Then you slowly add them back one at a time and note any symptoms (better or worse).
Let’s go over the pros and cons of this diet.
Pros of elimination diets
The main benefit is that, by tuning into your body's reactions to certain foods, you can pinpoint sensitivities and intolerances that you may not otherwise know of. Experiencing results first-hand can be very motivating when it comes to sticking to eliminating a certain food.
Elimination diets can be less expensive, and in some cases more reliable, than standard allergy testing.
It can also be very empowering to be in control of what you eat, learn about food and the compounds they contain, and try new recipes that exclude eliminated foods. Having a good plan makes things much easier (even exciting). If you love grocery shopping, cooking from scratch, and trying new recipes, you’re going to draw on all these skills.
These diets can be customizable, which is a great pro (see first con below).
Cons of elimination diets
You may not figure out everything you're sensitive to. Your plan should be strategically created to ensure that the most common food allergens are eliminated. This will give you the highest likelihood of success. It can become complicated if you let it.
It's a commitment for around 4-6 weeks, if not longer (which can be difficult for some people).
If you’re not used to tracking all foods and all symptoms every day, you’re going to have to start doing it. I put together a food and symptom journal to help you track what foods might be affecting your health. Download it below.
You may find that you're intolerant to one of your favourite foods, or even an entire group of your favourite foods.
When you're eliminating certain foods (or parts of foods, like gluten), it can be HARD! You almost need to prepare all of your foods, snacks and drinks yourself from scratch. If you don't take full control like this, it can be so easy to accidentally ingest something that you're cutting out. And at that point, you might need to start all over again.
And the biggest issues, in my opinion, is that food sensitivities are really a side effect in most cases to an underlying imbalance in your digestive system. Because 80% of our immune system is in our gut’s, if there is an imbalance your immune system will start to go on overdrive and will often overreact to foods. These are what I call false sensitivities.
So until you’re able to get your digestive system back on track and calm down your immune system, your food sensitivities will just continue to increase because your immune system attacks what it’s seeing.
The most common example of this would be someone who often consumes whey protein but it’s not making them feel good anymore, so they switch out to a vegan protein powder such as a pea protein. And then a few months down the road now the pea protein is almost making them not feel well. And as you can see, the list of sensitivities would just keep on growing.
Another good option is to have a Food-specific Immunoglobulin G (IgG) testing done through a health care practitioner (often via a Naturopath). This test is testing the specific immune antibodies (IgG) which are present in larger amounts when there is a food sensitivity. This test is different than an allergy test which is testing for immediate reactions and an IgE antibody reaction. The IgG test is more of a delayed reaction and less severe than IgE but can still lead to various symptoms the body, not just related to digestion and our gut.
The Pro to this test is that it’s easy and doesn’t require weeks of your time to get the results. The Con is that this test is quite expensive to have done.
My favorite testing method is of course muscle testing (aka Applied Kinesiology)! It provides fast and instant results helping people quickly navigate thought their food sensitivities. And it allows my clients to continue to navigate their sensitivities as they work on healing their digestive system allowing for their bodies to accept the foods again once they healed.
One of the best part is that it can take into consideration all of the variations on foods. This becomes very helpful for foods that are quite variable, like fish for example. Was it fresh, farmed, organic? Each of the different types can have different reactions in your body, even if it’s the same type of fish. So perhaps your reaction isn’t to the fish itself, but something else within the fish itself.
There are also no needles, no blood drawn, no invasive procedures which makes it especially easy for the little ones.
Elimination diets can be a very useful tool to identify food sensitivities. They can be empowering and customized. I would start by eliminating the 2 most common allergens: dairy and gluten.
If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you need to go further. Review your food journal and see if you can find patterns on how you feel based on what you ate. Start with the ones where the time of the discomfort was within the timing before the next meal. So if you bloat in the evenings, look at dinner. And if you bloat in the afternoons, look at lunch, etc.
If your symptoms still don’t improve, try eliminating the other most common foods (from my experience) that affect people: eggs, almonds, garlic, corn, and peas (incl. pea proteins).
Not sure if your symptoms are from a food sensitivity? Want to learn more about the possible connection? Check out the blog post I wrote: Are my symptoms from food intolerances, which goes more in depth on the connection with out digestive system, food allergies and sensitives/intolerances, and the importance of gut health in the healing process.
Don’t want to go through all the hassle of eliminating foods but want help finding out what’s bothering you? I don't blame you. It can be a long and tedious process.
Book in a free 30 min consultation with me below where I’ll show you how the muscle testing process works. I will as go through my Whole Body Health Profile to see where are the main imbalances in your body and to see if you do have any hidden infections or digestive imbalance which could be creating your food sensitivities.
In health and healing,